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Marrying Into a Family

Because that’s what truly happens when you marry someone – you marry into their family. If you are lucky, you get a great mother-in-law out of the deal. Or a good father-in-law.

And…depending on what you consider lucky or unlucky, you marry a guy whose father is ultra-religious, drinks a good bit, and forces everyone in his family to help him build a big boat.

I wonder how other families perceived Noah and his family. Was it positively? He had three sons. Families with many daughters might have looked into unloading a daughter onto Noah and his kin.

So, maybe a girl who had to do too much at home would have looked at her new potential family with some hope in her eyes. Maybe Noah’s sons were quite handsome. Maybe, a girl could do worse.

So, she marries. Has a lovely time with Ham in their marital chambers. But then, Noah puts out an edict. Everyone is to help build this boat, and no one is told why. The new wife still spends time with Ham, but it is spent building. She spends very little time alone with him. It is saddening, but at the same time okay, as she is so tired after working that she can barely tell that.

Then…she is told. About the rains. The flooding. And about all who will perish in it. Can you imagine her heartbreak? Can you imagine the tears and arguments shared between her and Ham? Would Ham have to get heavy-handed with her? Maybe.

So, she says goodbye to her parents, siblings, and their children. She helps get the animals – scary animals – on board the huge boat and then gets on board it herself.

Then, the rains start.

The flooding begins.

She then hears the people gathered outside the boat, begging to be let in. Does she hear the voices of her parents? Does she hear the voices of her siblings? Does she hear the cries of children and babies, all while cradling her abdomen and the growing babe that Ham put in there?

Then, the cries stop. Probably more scary sounding then when the cries were their loudest.

All she has to do now is cook and help tend to the animals. She has to walk the dark floors of that scary boat all by herself. Does she scream when she hears a lion roar? Does she wet herself when a snake gets loose and hisses at her?

She gives birth to her and Ham’s first child. She isn’t too lonely, though, as she has three sisters-in-law who are as shell-shocked as she is.

One year later, the boat touches land. She wonders where everyone else is. Her father-in-law tells her that there is no one else. She then learns that her and Ham’s children (she is with child again) will repopulate the earth with their cousins.

It is daunting. This work before her will take a while, but she has a lot more living to do.

*****

So, where did the inspiration for this come from, you might be wondering. Well, we are Catholic here. The devout type. Masses, rosaries and holy days of obligation are things of paramount importance in this household.

But you know what else is? A good story.

Yesterday, my little family went to Kennywood (a Pittsburgh-area amusement park) for fun. And it was. But what surprised me was how PETRIFYING the Noah’s Ark “ride” was. Apparently, it used to be a fun house. It was rehabbed, though, and made less scary. Still, the dark passageways, the rocking and swaying (even for this former sailor) are daunting. The life-like statues of Noah and his wife Naamah are particularly petrifying. I don’t know if that was the plan, but if you think about it, it fits. Noah was doing God’s work, but the job was a hard one. Naamah was probably just as scared as anyone else on that ark.

But…Naamah had three adult children with Noah. She’d been married to him for quite a while before the building of the Ark. So, she had time to get used to her husband’s devotion. Who knows? Maybe her devotion matched his own.

That leaves me wondering about Noah’s daughters-in-law. They kept their lives, but loss so much. Definitely something to mull over.

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

 

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